If the ACC Considers Realigning its Divisions, Talk Will Revolve Around the Florida State-Miami Rivalry
Now that the ACC‘s no longer in imminent peril, everyone can shift away from realignment theories and focus on other things… like divisional realignment theories. While the ACC does effectively have a wall built around its borders, that doesn’t change the issue it’s been having with the on-field football product of late. Due to expansion (both the first and second round), rivalries have taken a backseat to a hackneyed divisional alignment solely meant to match up Florida State and Miami for the ACC championship. Eight years after the formation of the “Atlantic” and “Coastal” divisions, that title game has yet to occur and now, with 14 teams, this nonsensical setup has never appeared more pointless. For the sake of more compelling matchups, as well as improving the quality of all the league’s teams (theoretically, at least), the best solution seems to be realigning the divisions. But what makes the most sense?
First, you have to outline the most important factors for divisional realignment; what are the top priorities if we’re going to blow up the current model and start over? From my point of view, those priorities are as follows:
1. Geography: Rivalries are inherently built out of geographic proximity — something the current alignment largely misses out on. With a league that spans from Boston to Miami, travel costs should also be a consideration to re-work things along geographic lines.
2. Eliminate Crossover Opponents: Under the current setup, each school is locked into six games in their respective division, plus one permanent crossover and then a rotating crossover opponent. With just one flexible slot each year, many schools in opposite divisions end up playing each other just once every six years. While some small exceptions can be made, the rule that every team needs a crossover opponent (since many of these are forced “rivalries”) must go. By freeing up another spot in the schedule, teams face each other more frequently, which is something virtually every fan base wants.
3. Get Teams Exposure in Florida: This is where things get a bit tricky. Getting in front of Florida recruits is a big deal for every school, and a pure geographic realignment largely cuts off the northeast schools from that recruiting hot bed. But if Miami (tons of northeast alums, anyway) was put in a hypothetical “North” division, this largely solves that issue. Every “North” team would have Miami on the annual schedule, while every “South” team would have an annual tilt with Florida State.
“But, but, but WHAT ABOUT THE FLORIDA STATE-MIAMI RIVALRY?!” We’re getting to it…